Who doesn’t love seeing those words? “FREE EBOOK!” We are all thirsty for knowledge and at the same time wary of spending money to buy a book and then realizing it’s not what we’d hoped.
As a consumer, I love free eBooks because I can look at the content and see if it’s what I need. If not it’s no big deal, I just delete it and move on.
As a marketer, I also love free eBooks. For one, it helps get my name out there, and positions me as an expert in my field. It’s a great credibility boost, as I mentioned in last week’s radio interview with Dale Little. For another, it can be a great motivator for a call to action on a landing page or web site.
Some may disagree, but using a free download of any kind is a great way to get people to sign up for a mailing list. As we all know, getting people to opt-in to our lists is no easy task, and is near impossible if they see no clear and immediate benefit to doing so. Having a free eBook to offer just makes it all that much easier.
In fact, I got an email from a young university student in the UK yesterday telling me she downloaded my ebook and wanted to include it in the bibliography for one of her research projects. Even though it’s academic, it’s still a form of sharing, and as such it adds a social element to the ebook.
Free ebooks can take another form. This kind is completely free with no restrictions except the reader is not allowed to plagiarize the book or accept money in exchange for it, or any part of it. It’s freely distributable, and the author/publisher does not require an email address or mailing list sign up or the submittal of any other information about themselves in exchange for accepting the book. The purpose of this form is to promote yourself, or a product or service you provide.
I created three types of eBooks recently.
In January I published a complete guide for small business owners to help them understand what goes into the process of designing a good web site. This book is available in the Amazon Kindle store for $4.
Then I cut out the details and left only about half the content, which included the core concepts and a little bit of meat, but not too much. I also added more promotional content at the end of the book, to include more information about how the reader could benefit by using my services (or reading my pay-for book). This version is called the abridged version, and is available for free as a gift when the reader signs up for my mailing list.
And finally, I made a completely free version of the same book, which anybody can simply download from my web site and freely distribute. This version has the most promotional information in it. I completely cut several chapters, and a lot more of the meat. I sprinkled various promotional messages throughout the content which tell the reader how they can get more info about that particular topic at various and sundry online locations. Those web sites further attempt to sell the visitor my services.
This last book just came out two weeks ago and I have not done a good job of promoting it… yet. But you can get it here if you want.
So you can hopefully see the various levels of usefulness for each of these different types of eBooks. Try them all to see what works for you as a marketer. You may get different results depending on the type of customers you have, but you won’t know until you try.
This morning I was on the internet looking for a new bluetooth mouse. I really liked the blue logitech one, and ended up looking at it several times while comparing it to others. For the most part I was on Amazon but I hit several other sites too.
As it turned out, the $50 price tag was more than I wanted to pay and I had other things to do, so I abandoned my search and went on to other things.
Several hours later and I was back in my office. A technical problem with Facebook’s iPhone app drove me to Google to search of a solution. Clearly this has nothing to do with blue mice… just hang with me here for a minute.
I found a forum where people were discussing my Facebook app problem, and when I got to the bottom of the screen, I noticed a picture of a shiny blue mouse. The exact same $50 blue mouse. Whaddyaknow… it was an Amazon ad.
When this first happened to me, a few months ago, it seemed a little creepy… I felt like I was being stalked. Now I’m starting to get used to it. Isn’t it funny how we get used to things we would never have tolerated a short time ago? (For more on this topic read my post about the cookie debate.)
This is what is becoming commonly known as “re-marketing.” Google is offering this as a new feature of their AdWords program. Since the AdWords network is huge, this is a natural thing for Google to do. From a marketing perspective it’s pretty freakin’ brilliant.
But will people get over the creepiness of it? As much as I love Google, this just seems a bit too Big Brother-like. Most of us don’t think twice about the fact that Facebook follows us around everywhere and shares our information with anyone who pays them enough. Maybe we’ll just get used to it, like we are now used to seeing “Be the first of your friends to like this” on so many web sites. (Think about it… how does that site know that none of your friends have liked it yet.)
Personally I think the outrage will die down and we’ll just get use to it, like we did everything that went before. Thoughts?
Happy Groundhog Day!
On Monday I published my new e-book, The Small Business Website Design Guide, on both Amazon and Google. I accomplished this task just under the gun, considering my goal was to get it done by the end of January.
At any rate, it took all day just to do this seemingly simple task of uploading an ebook to these two sites.
Amazon requires you to upload your book in a specific format in order for it to look good on the Kindle. (FYI — KDP stands for, I think, Kindle Development Platform or something.) They do not recommend PDF, which is just as well because I had formatted my ebook initially in a nice landscape format with a heavy left margin for callouts and photos. Clearly this was not a Kindle-friendly format.
What the hell was I thinking?
Since I use OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Word, the ability to create a “docx” file was clearly out of the question as well.
My only option then was to upload an HTML file. I thought “Good thing I know HTML!!! This should be a breeze!”
Being a perfectionist I spent hours (really, it was like four hours) reformatting my book into HTML format, and then uploading it, looking at it in the Kindle simulator, not liking it, and then tweaking it like 38 times. Really really laborious, but I finally finished at about 6 pm. Then Amazon informed me my book was in processing which takes up to 24 hours. Which I was fine with. I still got it done by the end of the month. Yay.
Google Books, it turns out, is technically just a search engine. As we Google-philes know, Google’s webmaster tools are not the friendliest creatures. Being designed by engineers, the user interface leaves a lot to be desired, even in the ones that have been around for a while.
Google Books is relatively new, so it has zero redeeming design value.
They don’t actually tell you that the act of uploading your book to Google Books will put it in their cloud and make it available for purchase. So after doing the upload I just kind of sat there and scratched my head and thought… “so… like… now what?”
After another hour of searching and reading help forums and slowly putting the pieces together, I finally was able to figure out that you have to go to a specific URL (which they don’t tell you is called “Google Editions” in your Google Books Publishing Partner account dashboard and is staring you right in the face the whole time). Then on that page you have to accept a special “GE” agreement. Once you do that, all sorts of other options become available.
So… then you can choose all those options like the price and the royalty and all that. And then you click the Save button and they put your book in pending status. Which, when you click on the “what’s this?” link next to “pending”, informs you that it could take up to two months for your book to publish.
For all my non-techy friends (of which I have MANY) — please do not attempt this on your own! I would hate to have to tell your kids why you jumped off a bridge.
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